Fervo’s Year in Review

December 22, 2023
  • Fervo established its commercial pilot, Project Red, as the most productive enhanced geothermal project in history.
  • Project Red began producing electricity, delivering 24/7 carbon-free energy to the Nevada grid and elevating Fervo’s drilling approach to technology readiness level nine (TRL-9): this means that our drilling approach has been proven in a real-world operational environment, and no technical barriers to deployment remain.
  • Fervo began drilling at Cape Station, the world’s largest enhanced geothermal project, and produced exceptional drilling results to-date.
  • Fervo doubled the number of team members and added Devon Energy as a strategic investor.

As we approach the end of the year, we are taking time to stop and smell the roses. Join us as we reflect on some of our most important accomplishments from 2023.

Geothermal has emerged as the most de-risked, commercially competitive source of 24/7 carbon-free energy.

In May, Fervo tested its first pair of parallel drilled and completed horizontal wells at an existing power facility in north central Nevada. The test validated our company’s core hypothesis; oil and gas drilling and completions technology can be successfully applied in geothermal reservoirs to predictably produce enough hot fluid to generate round-the-clock clean power. Fluid flow rates and temperatures achieved during this test—key technical indicators of project success—established Fervo’s Project Red as the most productive enhanced geothermal system (EGS) in history.

We built on these technical results in November, when we started producing electricity at Project Red. Our wells are now sending clean electrons to the Nevada grid, helping decarbonize the data centers of our development partner Google. As Google CEO Sundar Pichai noted, the commercial success of Project Red marks “an important step for our 24/7 carbon-free energy plans.”

Per an independent, third-party engineering report, the achievements at Project Red advanced EGS to technology readiness level TRL-9. This means our drilling approach has been proven in a real-world operational environment, and no technical barriers to deployment remain. Having met these key development targets, EGS has now become the country’s most mature, viable source of dispatchable, reliable carbon-free energy.

Fervo is already accelerating deployment at a rapid clip.

Stellar results at Project Red enabled Fervo to move forward with Cape Station, a 400 MW greenfield geothermal project in Beaver County, Utah. Since the start of the project in July, we have completed drilling on one vertical and four horizontal wells, each exceeding our predicted learning curve and previous projections from the Department of Energy.

We intend to publish more detailed drilling results in February at the Stanford Geothermal Workshop. Already, though, the results from Cape Station prove that existing oil and gas drilling technology is well suited to effectively achieve major efficiency even in hard rock environments typical of geothermal reservoirs. Furthermore, meaningful advancement down a steep drilling learning curve proves both the potential to scale and to become the most cost-effective high-capacity factor clean energy resource in the world.

Fervo has positioned geothermal at the core of global decarbonization.

While the first 400 MW at Project Cape will consist of grid-connected power sold to large load-serving entities, other high potential applications for EGS-generated heat and power – including for energy storage, green hydrogen, carbon capture, sustainable aviation fuel, greenhouses, and lithium and other critical mineral extraction – have emerged over the last year.

In March and again in May, we showcased FervoFlex, our geothermal energy storage technology. Shutting in our production well while flowing our injection well allows for the build up of energy underground when power demand is low. As demand spikes, we can open our production well and increase energy output above its normal capacity. FervoFlex will enable Fervo to meet the increasing need for flexibility among power buyers.

We also proceeded through meaningful diligence in analyzing the direct air capture (DAC) market as a potential offtaker. Building carbon negative DAC facilities will require abundant clean, firm heat and power, energy that geothermal is well positioned to provide. In February, Fervo announced a grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to design a combined geothermal + DAC facility. With Department of Energy DAC Hubs funding, we then expanded that research to assess the feasibility of DAC facilities, transportation, and sequestration across our geothermal acreage in southwest Utah.

The potential for behind-the-meter applications for EGS is massive. We enter 2024 more bullish than ever that Fervo’s projects will, in the coming decade, fuel not only traditional utilities but the growing number of commercial and industrial facilities, data centers, and manufacturers looking for 24/7 carbon-free heat and power.

Growing our world-class team

We are incredibly proud of the team we have built that pushes Fervo’s mission forward every day. Over the course of 2023, we doubled our staff, adding experts in permitting, reservoir engineering, drilling, completions, facility design and construction, transmission, project finance, energy policy, and more to the Fervo family. The team is truly world-class and has managed to sustain a highly collaborative, fun, and hard-working culture.

We also welcomed seasoned power executive Anne Cleary to our board of directors and, after receiving a $10 million strategic investment from Devon Energy, benefitted from close collaboration with Devon’s technical experts. Continuing to position EGS at the forefront of the energy transition will require more top talent at Fervo. If you’re interested in advancing the geothermal decade, check out our careers page to learn more.

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